“Our community stood up for us”
Promoters form the underground and electronic music share how they handle the crisis
Clubs closed, festivals have been cancelled and promoters from the electronic music scene struggle to keep their business afloat in the current COVID-19 crisis. The international promoters Raquel Fedato (owner and project manager at “Pornceptual”, freelance event producer, based in Berlin) and Seva Granik (underground event promoter, based in Brooklyn, New York) spoke to students and guests, moderated by Chono Chibesakunda and Prof. Dr. Brigitte Biehl. They explained how they deal with the current situation, if they pursue new business initiatives, what role the community played, and what they think the future will bring.
Promoters have been hit by the situation: “We’ve had to cancel and reimburse all of our events to the end of 2020. Scores of artist flights, artist fees, agent fees and venue deposits were mostly lost”, Seva reports. It took the teams a lot of energy to handle the canceled events.
“However, we quickly decided to use this time to explore the creative side of our project”, explains Raquel. “For Pornceptual, we expanded our virtual presence and also tried to see this as an incentive to create and produce art.” Among the successful additions to the portfolio is the first interactive online event “Pornceptual x Klub Verboten” and “Isolation PORN” in which the community explored photography and sexuality during the quarantine. In New York, the creative heads had intense internal debates but decided that any attempt to relay that experience of sharing the dance-floor with friends and strangers over the internet “would likely fail or at least help to erode what the project stands for”, finds Seva. “We’re taking this time to focus on individual projects and learn.” In times of crisis, creative inspiration may be hard to find for many artists, DJs, performers and others, but “that also is ok”, promoters say.
Both promoters emphasized how government financial support in the crisis and timely payments would be essential for all creatives. They emphasize the danger that many will go under, and some already have. For both promoters, their communities play a central role. The American crew organized a fund drive through the mailing list for their staff that was hugely successful. “Especially with WHOLE, we have seen the power of our community during the pandemic”, summarizes Raquel. “After our cancellation, the people who truly stood up for us were our attendees and the collectives who are part of the festival.”
The community has grown closer in its shared identity through the mutual support during Covid-19 and its safety comes first for promoters: Even if some warehouse parties may be illegal and under the radar, the Brooklyn promoter would not want to endanger individuals during the pandemic and expects parties to not start again before 2021.
Raquel hopes that after the restrictions fall, people will focus more on the local artists and community rather than on big institutions and large commercial events. This outlook is shared by Seva: He expects mainstream music and live parties to bounce back to their commercially-driven reality, but the underground and DIY event communities to further focus on whom they’d like to hear play when we’re back on track: “These crowds will have been radicalized even further, if they aren’t already, and they will expect their promoters to focus their attention on the communities that support them.”
The talk was part of the fortnightly stream-series “Future of the Creative Industries in Disruptive Times” that has been started by Prof. Dr. Svenja Tams and Chono Chibesakunda in the context of the B.A. Creative Industries Management to explore the role of the creative industries for the future of our society.
Text: Brigitte Biehl